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Showing posts from July, 2012
Black Hat: Iris scanners 'can be tricked' by hackers
26 July 2012 Last updated at 12:41
Iris scanners are widely recognised as one of the most secure biometric security measures
Security researchers have discovered a way to replicate a person's eye to bypass iris-scanning security systems.
A team at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid was able to recreate the image of an iris from digital codes of real irises stored in security databases.
The findings were shared at the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.
It raises doubts over what is considered to be one of the most secure methods of biometric security.
Researcher Javier Galbally and his team, which included researchers from West Virginia University, were able to print out synthetic images of irises.
In one experiment, the researchers tested their fake irises against a leading commercial-recognition system. In 80% of attempts, they said, the scanner believed it was a real eye.
While researchers have been able to cre…
New Russia internet law deemed censorship by critics AFP – 19 hours ago
A new law seeking to protect minors from internet sites with harmful content comes into force in Russia on Monday amid criticism that it is a veiled move to increase censorship in the country.
Under the law, which was approved by both houses of parliament in July, websites containing illegal "dangerous content" will be blacklisted on a federal register and forced to close.
Officially, the aim is to protect young people from sites that feature child pornography, promote drugs or offer tips for committing suicide but observers say the legislation is another step towards greater control over the population by President Vladimir Putin since his return to power in May. In less than three months, parliament has adopted a series of laws labelled oppressive by the opposition.
They include the strict monitoring of political NGOs benefiting from foreign funding and heavy fines for anyone who organises unauthorised demon…
Innovation is Hard: The Real Story of Microsoft's Fall From GraceByMatthew Yglesias PostedThursday, July 26, 2012, at 4:22 PM ET
I can't believe it took me this long to read Kurt Eichenwald's longarticle on Steve Ballmer and the fall of Microsoft. It's a great piece full of telling detail. But I do think it's worth offering a more analytic take. There's a reason people in Ballmer's position tend to fail. The basic issue facing Microsoft over the past ten years has been this—innovating is really hard. The company reached a point where Office and Windows were so popular that wasn't much you could do to increase their popularity by improving the product. They continued to work on improving the product, and kept these divisions very healthy and profitable, but there simply wasn't an explosive growth opportunity left to be had because the previous successes had been so enormous. So you create a situation where the company as a whole is basically a venture …
Newsweek Owner Says Magazine Will Eventually Shift Online By Sarah Frier and Edmund Lee - Jul 25, 2012 10:00 AM PT
Newsweek will eventually transition to an online publication, owner IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI) said today, marking the beginning of the end for the magazine’s 79-year run as a print weekly.
IAC Chairman Barry Diller made the announcement during a quarterly earnings conference call, saying the New York-based company aims to curb investments in the money-losing business. Still, he stopped short of saying it would be a “total” shift to the Internet.
“The transition to online from hard print will take place,” Diller said. “We’re examining all of our options.”
A plan to move Newsweek to an online-only publication will be announced as early as September, Diller said. Newsweek became part of his media holdings in 2011 when it merged with IAC’s Daily Beast Co., an online news startup that Diller started with former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown. The merger was part of an agreement wit…
"Do Not Track" Internet spat risks legislative crackdown
By Jasmin Melvin | Reuters – 21 hours ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House wants a "Do Not Track" option put on websites to give consumers greater control of their personal information online but Internet companies and privacy groups are at odds on how tight the controls should be.
The stalemate could lead to a legislative crackdown on Internet privacy if left unresolved.
That has firms like Google Inc and Facebook Inc that rely heavily on collecting user data worried that any legislation could lead to cuts in online advertising that would eat into their profits.
The U.S. administration has looked to an Internet standards setting body, already eyeing a "Do Not Track" mechanism and with an aggressive timeline in place, to corral everyone into a room and onto teleconferences to reach a deal.
With over 10 months of talks under the group's belt, they are still talking but are arguably no closer to a…
How Apple's Phantom Taxes Hide Billions in Profit
By PETER SVENSSON AP Technology Writer NEW YORK July 23, 2012 (AP)
On Tuesday, Apple is set to report financial results for the second quarter. Analysts are expecting net income of $9.8 billion. But whatever figure Apple reports won't reflect its true profit, because the company hides some of it with an unusual tax maneuver.
Apple Inc., already the world's most valuable company, understates its profits compared with other multinationals. It's building up an overlooked asset in the form of billions of dollars, tucked away for tax bills it may never pay.
Tax experts say the company could easily eliminate these phantom tax obligations. That would boost Apple's profits for the past three years by as much $10.5 billion, according to calculations by The Associated Press.
While investors might rejoice if Apple suddenly added $10.5 billion to its profits, unilaterally erasing a massive U.S. tax obligation could tarnish its reputa…
Washington state to become first to offer voter registration on Facebook
July 18th, 2012 06:46 PM ET Posted by CNN's Justin Lear and Katelyn Petroka
(CNN) – Washington will become the first state to offer voter registration via Facebook with a new application to be launched as soon as next week, according to a state election official.
Once online, the app will be accessible on the secretary of state's Facebook page, said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections for the state.
Washington, which has approximately 3.7 million registered voters, conducts elections entirely by mail and enacted online registration in 2008. Since online registration started, Hamlin said close to 500,000 voter registrations or address changes have been processed.
Facebook, Washington state and Microsoft have teamed up to create an app that allows users to register on the social media site through the state's new "MyVote" app. The effort came about last fall when Microsoft approached Washi…
Adult fiction ebooks outsold hardcovers in 2011-survey
By Christine Kearney NEW YORK, July 18 | Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:49pm EDT
(Reuters) - Electronic books more than doubled in popularity in 2011, with ebooks outselling hardcover books in adult fiction for the first time, according to a survey released on Wednesday.
Net sales of e-books jumped to 15 percent of the market in 2011 from 6 percent in 2010, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. The groups compiled data provided by nearly 2,000 publishers.
Total overall U.S. book market sales declined 2.5 percent to $27.2 billion in 2011 from $27.9 billion in 2010, the report said.
While ebooks increased in strength, bringing in more than $2 billion in 2011, the majority of publishers' revenue still came from print books, with $11.1 billion in 2011.
"We're delighted to see it (the report) affirm that the industry has remained steady, and has even grown in some areas, in what co…
Post Office Nears First Default in Its History
Updated July 18, 2012, 8:34 p.m. ET
By JENNIFER LEVITZ
While lawmakers continue to fight over how to fix the ailing U.S. Postal Service, the agency's money problems are only growing worse.
The Postal Service repeated on Wednesday that without congressional action, it will default—a first in its long history, a spokesman said—on a legally required annual $5.5 billion payment, due Aug. 1, into a health-benefits fund for future retirees. Action in Congress isn't likely, as the House prepares to leave for its August recess.
The agency said a default on the payment, for 2011, wouldn't directly affect service or its ability to pay employees and suppliers. But "these ongoing liquidity issues unnecessarily undermine confidence in the viability of the Postal Service among our customers," said spokesman David Partenheimer.
The agency says it will default on its 2012 retiree health payment as well—also roughly $5.5 billion, due Sept.…
How Microsoft can salvage Windows 8 before it's too late
Summary: Here's what Microsoft should do if it wants to prevent Windows 8 from going down in history as a Vista-like flop.
By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for Hardware 2.0 |    July 18, 2012 -- Updated 19:11 GMT (12:11 PDT)
A regular Hardware 2.0 commentator challenges me to do something that may well be impossible -- fix Windows 8.
You've spilled a lot of pixels telling us what's wrong with Windows 8.  Your mission, should you decide to accept it, it to come up with a concise way that Microsoft could salvage the operating system before it's released.
This is a tough challenge, given that Windows 8 is only a few months away from release. There's not a lot that Microsoft can do in this time. However, given that the Redmond giant has already gone on the record to say that the UI that we see in the Windows 8 Release Preview is not what will be in the final release, it's safe to say that things are in a certain stat…
Windows 8's delivery date: October 26

Summary: Microsoft and partners will make Windows 8 available on new PCs and via various upgrade programs on October 26, officials are saying.
By Mary Jo Foley |   July 18, 2012 -- Updated 21:00 GMT (14:00 PDT)
Microsoft is continuing to eke out the Windows 8 news.
The latest tidbit is Windows 8's exact availability date is going to be October 26. (The last we heard at the Microsoft Partner Conference a week ago is it would be in "late October.")
October 26 will be the date Windows 8 will be available preloaded on new PCs and also to those purchasing it through one of the upgrade programs Microsoft has announced recently. Based on previous Microsoft statements, it also seems October 26 will be the date that Windows RT-based Surface PCs/tablets from Microsoft will be available via the Microsoft Stores and select online outlets.
Microsoft officials shared the exact date on July 18 with the thousands of Microsoft salespeople attending th…
Microsoft could face billions in new fines over browser choice
EU's chief antitrust regulator promises sanctions because Microsoft left browser ballot out of Windows 7 SP1
By Gregg Keizer July 17, 2012 12:12 PM
Computerworld - European Union (EU) antitrust regulators today threatened Microsoft with more fines, potentially massive ones in the billions of dollars, after the company failed to make good on its promise to offer consumers there a choice of browsers.
The EU's chief regulator, Joaquin Almunia, talked tough. "If the facts are confirmed, [I will] use the legal instruments at my disposal to deter and to punish [Microsoft]."
In announcing the new investigation, Almunia, the head of the EU's Competition Commission, added, "If confirmed, this would have severe consequences ... and there will be sanctions."
Microsoft immediately apologized, calling the failure to offer the browser choice screen to Windows 7 users a "technical error."
The browser ba…
E-Books Remain Tax Evaders — for Now
JUL 16, 2012, 1:13 PM By Quentin Fottrell
Those who order “Fifty Shades of Grey” in paperback generally pay sales tax, but in most of the country the e-book version is tax free. That may soon change.
Republican governors are gradually easing their longtime opposition to sales taxes on online purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. This will push up the price for the wide variety of tangible goods sold on sites like Amazon.com. (Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.) Most Americans who read books on their Kindles, Nooks and iPads have been exempt from taxes, but getting a piece of such sales may be irresistible to cash-strapped governments, experts say. “It’s become too big a market to ignore,” says Carolynn Iafrate Kranz, chief operating officer at Industry Sales Tax Solutions. “We’re starting to see more states taxing digital content.”
Just as the iPod upended CD sales, Amazon’s Kindle and other e-readers now account for a huge ch…
Microsoft, NBC dissolve MSNBC.com joint venture
Jul 15, 10:27 PM EDT
By MICHAEL LIEDTKE AP Technology Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Microsoft is pulling out of the joint venture that owned MSNBC.com, freeing the world's largest software maker to build its own online news service.
The breakup announced late Sunday dissolves the final shreds of a 16-year marriage between Microsoft Corp. and NBC News, which is now owned by Comcast Corp. The relationship began to unwind in 2005 when Microsoft sold its stake in MSNBC's cable TV channel to NBC.
NBC is buying Microsoft's 50 percent interest in the MSNBC website for an undisclosed amount. MSNBC.com will be rebranded as NBCNews.com, and readers who logged into MSNBC.com late Sunday were automatically redirected to NBCNews.com.
The website will move its headquarters from Microsoft's corporate campus in Redmond, Wash., to NBC News' longtime home in New York.
The online divorce stemmed from the two partners' desire to gain greater…